En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 16, 2012

From: Abilene, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Identity of plant that smells like oranges in Alpine, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

There are patches of flat bushy like plants in lawn, smells like orange. Areas may be 10" and spreading, but when pulled has small root. How can I get rid of this plant and what is it?

ANSWER:

This sounds like one of the Crotons.  There are several species that occur in Brewster County and all have a characteristic odor, much like oranges, when the leaves are crushed.  The most likely one is Croton monanthogynus (Prairie tea).  Here are more photos and information from University of Texas School of Biological Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension and from Missouri State University.

There are also:

Croton lindheimerianus (Threeseed croton).  Here are photos from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Croton pottsii var. pottsii (Leatherweed)

Croton suaveolens (Scented croton)

Croton texensis (Texas croton)

Croton incanus (Torrey's croton).  Here are photos and more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

Croton fruticulosus (Bush croton)

The best way to get rid of the plant is just what you have been doing—pull it up.  On the other hand, you might consider waiting until after it's dropped its seeds.  Crotons are often called doveweeds for their important role in providing essential forage for doves, quail and other ground-feeding birds.

If this isn't the plant you have in your lawn, take photos of it and then visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Leatherweed
Croton pottsii var. pottsii

Scented croton
Croton suaveolens

Texas croton
Croton texensis

Bush croton
Croton fruticulosus

More Problem Plants Questions

Clearing out non-native Himalayan blackberry
January 25, 2009 - Can you recommend a way to clear an area of Himalayan blackberry? We have cut the canes back but wish to eliminate them completely so that we can replant that area with native plants attractive to wil...
view the full question and answer

Problem with weeds in the buffalograss
June 11, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm about to throw in the towel! My back 'lawn' of buffalo grass (609) is almost all 'weeds'! Native ruellia and lyre leaf sage have taken over and as the area has gott...
view the full question and answer

Identification of invasive plant
March 26, 2010 - I have found an invasive plant species in Martindale, Texas that I would like to identify for family members. It is taking over their pasture and is difficult to eliminate. It has not bloomed yet but...
view the full question and answer

Identification of stinging plant in Central Texas
July 02, 2012 - I live on 15 acres on Nameless Road. When walking on property, occasionally my leg/ankle brushes against some plant that "stings" me. Like little needles in my skin. Doesn't last long, but becau...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating silverleaf nightshade from Albuquerque NM
June 07, 2014 - I have silverleaf nightshade in my yard and would like to eradicate it (yeah, I know, good luck!) or at least control it. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center